The idea of incorporating yoga into our workplace is not a new thing by any means; HBO, Apple, Nike and many other globally recognized companies offer yoga classes to their employees as part of their corporate wellness program. They must be doing it for a reason, right?
To most people, it might seem obvious that a yoga session every now and then could help to relax in the middle of a busy working day. You take a break to stretch your muscles and put your duties aside for a bit. But that kind of brief relaxation is not what makes yogis more productive at work; for that matter, a massage gives the same benefits.
Yoga is much more than a bunch of acrobatic postures on the mat, and to really gain long-term productivity through it, one has to buy into the yogic philosophy and use that ancient knowledge to generate better results during our working hours.
If you manage to become a regular practitioner and commit to the ideology of a yogi, you’ll soon find out that the things you learn in yoga come naturally to your aid when you need them the most. They’ll help you to get better results at work while feeling good. Here are 5 ways how being a yogi can pay off at work.
1. Discipline to stick to routines
When you become a dedicated practitioner, hopping on the mat becomes almost second nature; it’s part of your daily routine and it even feels like a ritual. This habit can be very useful in a work context.
It’s not easy to have the discipline to be productive every day, but having a specific ritual could help you focus and get more things done at work. For example, you could create the habit of starting every Monday by writing down all the objectives you have for the week; or setting specific times to check emails, to do more daunting tasks, and also to take breaks to free up your mind.
In addition, the feeling that comes with getting something done first thing in the morning (in this case a yoga sequence), helps to build up momentum for the rest of the day. Usually, the way you start your day, determines how the rest will unfold, and once you strike a handstand on the mat, the reports on your desk won’t look as hard to do.
In yoga, as in work and life, without the discipline to practice constantly, the results will never come!
2. Avoid stress through breathing tecnhiques
Yoga teaches us to master our bodies and create energy by controlling our breath. This what is called pranayama and there are several techniques to practice it. And the good news it that you can do most of them sitting at your desk while working!
It’s understandable that there are going to be super busy days win which it is hard to catch your breath, but with pranayama it is possible to relax and relieve stress even during those stressful moments. Just use one of these breathing exercises and you will soon regain your energies and mindfulness, and you’ll be able to keep calm even in the middle of the most chaotic days.
3. Access to poses that heal the aches of long working hours
Back pain and neck pain are some of the ailments derived from the stress of work and long periods of time sitting in front of a computer, often times not in the best posture. To heal these aches, you do have to recur to the asana limb of yoga, which is the most popular one involving body poses on the mat.
The best part is that you can even prevent these pains instead of just healing them; by starting your day with a sequence that includes postures for the spine, you’ll warm it up to be seated for the next couple of hours and it will gain flexibility. Another alternative is to take 10 minutes in the middle of your working day to do a few asanas to ease the tension in your neck and shoulders.
4. Ability to better concentrate
Even some of the most basic yoga poses require full concentration to keep the balance and maintain the necessary strength. You have to go from one pose to the next one without distractions and totally aware of what’s going on with your body. When you get used to do it for 60 to 90 minutes, it just becomes a habit that can be easily applied at work, going from one task to the other without interruptions.
Mindfulness is one of the most relevant traits of highly productive people, and guess what? That’s basically what yoga and meditation are all about!
5. Enhanced patience with everything and everyone
It’s normal to have a certain coworker or client with whom you just don’t click, and the stress and bad humor caused by that relationship, could really hinder your productivity. The same happens with those simple yet unfortunate situations that could frustrate us. Maybe it is a package that didn’t arrive on time, the phone ringing in the middle of a meeting, or the printer breaking down when you need it the most.
All these circumstances can be better swelled by living the harmonious yogic lifestyle. The yoga philosophy understands that things go wrong and that’s fine too. While the mat teaches you to be patient, knowing that it requires a lot of time and effort to strike the most difficult poses. In other words, yoga gives you a more “Zen attitude” to deal with difficulties and by letting all troubles go, you can focus on more important things.
Therefore, if you’re lucky enough to work for a company (or own it) that offers yoga classes as part of your perks, I encourage you to go beyond the short break that it represents, and truly use all the tools that yoga gives to be more productive.